By INS Contributors

KUALA LUMPUR: The recent protests at two Tawau villages adds to the feelings of alienation felt by Sabahans towards the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government in Putrajaya, according to a DAP state assemblyman.

Sri Tanjong ADUN Justin Wong Yung Bin said the inability of villagers to earn a living due to the enhanced movement control orders (EMCOs) had reinforced the feeling that "Sabahans are on their own".

"How can we have a situation where people are neglected to the point of being desperate enough to protest over a lack of food? This is totally unacceptable.

"While I understand the need to contain Covid-19, is there no way to ensure these villagers receive adequate aid and support at a time they are unable to earn a living," he told INS.

Wong said PN, which had repeatedly claimed to be an administration for “all Malaysians”, needed to be more sensitive towards the needs of the state and Sabahans.

“We are only talking about food aid, not even MA63, state rights or oil royalties. These people are not seeking welfare, they are seeking aid because they are unable to work.

“The PN government cannot claim it has not heard or does not know the situation on the ground. Do not act as if these people are doing this for no reason. The government has to render assistance to all Malaysian’s regardless of whether they are in opposition or government constituencies,” he said.

He also called for adequate resources to be made available in other areas in the state which had been hard hit by the surge in Covid-19 cases, adding that politicising the delivery of aid would reflect badly on PN and the country.

“There cannot be favouritism. We are talking about the lives and well-being of these people. There is no room for political games.

“What kind of message is the government sending to Malaysians and to the world if it cannot ensure that those under severe movement restrictions have steady access to food and essential supplies,” he said.

Wong added that he had written to the Tawau Municipal Council in an effort to urge the authorities enforcing the EMCO to refine their methods, narrowing down the areas locked down to just affected lanes and phases instead of a blanket lockdown.

“The implementation of a total lockdown over such a large area has an impact on too many residents, especially residents who earn a daily salary, as well as causing mental distress. This should be reviewed.

“Take Taman Semarak Phase 2 as an example,they didn't lock the whole of Taman Semarak. But Bandar Sri Indah being a satellite township has been locked completely,” he said.

Tawau has seen at least two peaceful protests in recent days by hungry villagers: one Kampung Muhibbah Raya on Saturday which saw the arrest of seven individuals and another on Tuesday at Kampung Baru Pasir Putih which saw hundreds turn up, though no arrests were recorded.